Written by: Tasha DeVita - runner, fitness enthusiast, mom, & respiratory therapist
Follower her on Instagram @tash_runs26.2
Most of the time, when we think of a disability or disease, we think of something we can see. Something we recognize or understand. Something that can potentially be cured and never have to worry about again. Depression isn't this; it is different. Depression isn’t something that comes to mind when most people think of a disability or disease. In fact, depression isn't something that seems to be taken very seriously at all. What most people don't know, is that it is crippling, it is debilitating. It takes everything away from you, and you don't know when you'll get it back. “It” being the desire to do life. To function “normally.” To wake up ready to take on the world and be productive, whatever productive may look like to you. Once depression hits you, it's like going back to dating the worst boyfriend you've ever had. Making you feel like you're alone and have no one or nothing. It scares the hell out of you and you feel utterly out of control to do anything about it!
"It takes everything away from you, and you don't know when you'll get it back."
Depression has been an on and off issue for me since I was 18 years old. I first realized it while away at college. And recently I could feel it creeping up again. About 9 months ago I had just hit a PR on my half marathon with a time of 1:46:04. I was feeling great and then an injury side lined me and I had to stop running. Coupled with this, I was coming into the spring months and going from having class/clinicals/studying 5-6 days a week to graduating and not having that consistency to keep my mind occupied. With all this free time, I could definitely feel it creeping. Post graduation, I needed to start studying for boards, which helped a little, but the major set back came when I didn't pass the first time around; or the second! This was devastating!
"Depression has been an on and off issue for me since I was 18 years old. I first realized it while away at college."
What I wasn't ready to face, was the reality that it was going to hit me like a wild fire and completely destroy me. Little by little, it consumed me until one morning, I woke up and could feel that my demeanor had completely changed. I no longer had the desire to do anything. I no longer had the desire to take care of myself, nor the desire to participate in life. And when you have a 5 year old depending on you, it's really hard to do that. Most would think, “well why doesn't she just go to the doctor and pop some pills?” But here’s the thing with that - I have! I've tried several different medications and from feeling like a complete shell of a person, to feeling nothing, to throwing up, I decided that in order for me to get through this I was going to have to feel my way through absolutely everything. The highs, the lows, and the lows so bad I sometimes thought it would be better if I just didn't exist. What makes it worse is it was easy for me to put on a face when I need to so no one around me suspects a thing. Because I didn't want people to know. I could admit to myself that something was wrong but admitting it to other people is a whole other story. I was ashamed. I was ashamed to admit I wasn't okay because everyone who knows me, always sees a “happy & bubbly” Tasha. It hurt to admit that I was no longer that person. I cried. A lot. Sobbed.
"...admitting it to other people is a whole other story. I was ashamed. I was ashamed to admit I wasn't okay..."
For the first few months, I worked the few days a week I was scheduled, tried to do fun things, tried to run when I wasn't in pain, but I knew it wasn't helping. I hid my depression, I pushed it to the side hoping that it would just disappear, but it never did. It didn't just go away like I wanted it to. In fact, the more that I tried to hide it the worse it seemed to get. I finally woke up one morning and admitted to myself that something was wrong and that it is OKAY for me to just deal.
"...the more that I tried to hide it the worse it seemed to get. I finally woke up one morning and admitted to myself that something was wrong and that it is OKAY for me to just deal."
I realized I had to embrace the good days and allow myself to be okay with ME on the bad days. I realized had to be okay with myself on the days I woke up, showered, and did nothing more. I realized I had to be okay with telling my daughter that mommy isn't feeling well today and hoping that she'll forgive me for it.
"...I have been able to recognize that I do suffer from depression and that it is okay and that I am okay."
With depression, also comes its friends anxiety and stress. Most days I felt like I had a ton of bricks just sitting on my chest. No matter what I did or as much as I tried to push myself back into some sort of routine, I always found myself back to where I was most comfortable. Bed. And it stayed like this for a long few months. It wasn't until only recently that I can feel myself coming back on the upswing.
"Running has ultimately saved me. I have found my safe haven in running and fitness and the people behind all of it."
Over the last few months, I have gotten a job where my heart really belongs, doing exactly what I was meant to do. I have moved to a city where I am embraced by the community of running and fitness and I have a few good friends and companies that have stood by my side while I have felt my way through what I never thought I would come out of. But for the first time in my life, I have been able to recognize that I do suffer from depression and that it is okay and that I am okay. I am doing the best that I can and that is enough. We are given but this one life and everyone’s journey is differently. But the one thing we all have in common is that we're all human. We all deserve to be loved for exactly who we are. I am one of the lucky ones, the blessed ones, who can say she truly has a great support system behind her. Running has ultimately saved me. I have found my safe haven in running and fitness and the people behind all of it. And I know that I am not alone in facing “life.” I am on the mend with this injury, working a job that I love, and have a great community behind me. If it's one piece of advice that I can offer, recognize that you're okay, recognize that you're human and while it may not seem like it now, you will be okay in the end.